Youth Groups & You: 4-H

Youth Groups & You: 4-H

4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential through youth-adult partnerships and research-based experiences, is the mission of 4-H.  In cooperation with the USDA and ISU Extension the goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through practical learning programs and a positive youth development approach.


In the state of Iowa 4-H is an institution.  I’m sure many of you, like me, were members of a 4-H group growing up or at least know what it is from perusing exhibits at your local county fair or at the Iowa State Fair.  I have many fond memories of 4-H and gained first hand experiences and held responsibilities, I would not have had without it.  Research conducted by Tufts University titled “The Positive Development of Youth” shows that youth involved in 4-H excel in several areas including: civic engagement, academic achievement and healthy living.


4-H does have an image that it is only for rural kids, which is not the case.  Extension offices provide oversight for the clubs with broad guidelines.  So there may be a lot of variation between clubs.  Clubs can choose to have a focus such as outdoor adventures or may be more general, letting each member pick their own focus.  While the 4-H website provides a lot of information, you cannot just look up and find out information on local clubs.  You either need to contact your local county extension office or there is a form you can fill out on the website and then you will be contacted.  All of this makes it a bit challenging to find the club that is the right fit for your child and family.

Best For

4-H has a little something for everyone these days and can cover a wide variety of topics.  However, if you have a kid that is particularly interested in animal care, agricultural and natural resources, creative arts or family and consumer sciences, 4-H may be of particular interest to them.  Like most organizations the more you and your kid put in the more you will get out of it.

Time Commitment

The length and frequency of the meetings is up to the leaders and club members.  Most groups meet at least monthly.  Depending on the focus of your club, you may have other events or field trips to attend throughout the year.  If your child decides to undertake a project, they will need to set aside time to work on the project; attend the county fair to be judged; and if they have a good showing may need to attend the Iowa State Fair.


Supplies needed will vary depending on the club’s focus and member’s projects.


  • Program Fees: Fee amounts vary by County Extension Office and club.  Some County Extension Councils pay member’s fees, some clubs receive grants from corporate sponsors and others may charge a flat fee.  You will need to ask about costs, when researching clubs to join.
  • Project Costs: Members will be responsible for covering costs of project supplies.

4-H generally does not turn away members due to inability to pay.  If you need assistance talk to the leaders of your club or contact your local County Extension office.

Where to find Organizations

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Beardshear Hall, Ames, IA 50011-2031
Phone: (800) 262-3804, 2150

County Offices:

What do you think, is 4-H a fit for your kid?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *